Study Puts Spotlight on Preventing Fall-Related Injuries

Cheryl Clark, July 23, 2014

A five-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute aims to identify "the most effective combination of falls-prevention strategies to fit the needs of different individuals and different healthcare systems."


Wu

Albert Wu, MD

An upcoming federal research project to prevent falls in seniors 75 and older may seem to have little relevance for hospital and physician leaders. But the impact its findings may have on hospital costs and reimbursement from payers is potentially enormous.

"The reason the industry should be interested in this study is that very soon, if not already, you will be accountable for the care of a defined population of patients, not just those who fall while in the hospital," says Albert Wu, MD, who directs the Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Announced last month by the National Institutes of Health and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, is described as the first "large-scale study to identify the most effective combination of falls prevention strategies to fit the needs of different individuals and different health care systems."

Treatment of falls in older adults cost the U.S. healthcare system $30 billion in direct medical costs, in 2010 according to the CDC. And costs increase rapidly as people age because their injuries and their complications become tougher to treat.

Rewards for quality of care provided by doctors and hospitals in accountable care organizations means that "if your patients do badly, that's on your watch. The way things are going is that payment systems will drive [providers] to be more responsible for populations of people rather than one patient at a time.

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